Salavador Dali, Michelin Slave

In his book entitled Esculturas. Sculpture. A. Reynolds Morse identifies two distinct categories in the sculptures of Salvador Dali. Thefirst is defined as the “only genuine group of Dali’s original sculptures”(Morse, Esculturas. Sculpture p. 16). This group of forty-three wax sculptures, made between 1971 and 1981, are known today as the Clot Collection. The originality of these works lies in the fact that both the idea and its execution truly bore the hands of the artist. By contrast, Morse refers to the second category of sculptures as objects representative of Dali’s ideas. (ibid.) These objects are typically assemblages or transformations of existing objects into Dali’s surrealist experiments. He began creating these works in the early 1930’s, and by the end of the 1960’s they came to both represent and attract a mass commercial market.
Michelin Slave is an object that falls under this second, more commercial category, and was therefore created prior to 1971.An understanding of the evolution of Michelin tires helps to further narrow the time period within which the work was conceived. Between 1950 and 1970, Michelin marketed the radial tire marking a real technological revolution. It would gradually take over all types of vehicles and all markets and give Michelin a decisive advantage over its competitors. (Michelin). Perhaps inspired by its radical innovation, Dali envisioned the combination of this highly commercial product with Michelangelo’s Dying Slave (1513-15416) (see fig.1). The result is a three dimensional representation of a Dalinian concept known as the Michelin Slave.
Michelin Slave shows a juxtaposition of modern innovation with classical tradition and illustrates but one of the many contrasts which are so striking about this work. While the main figure is one of classical perfection, the smaller figure at his feet is highly abstract. Its face is animalistic, resembling that of a monkey. The original work …